Family law reform needs to move forward

Debates about reform to Australia’s family law system ebb and flow but are never far from public prominence for long, writes Nicole Rich.

There are several pressing areas for change, but most important is surely how the system responds to family violence. While state jurisdictions have pressed ahead with reforms following processes such as the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence and the Queensland Not Now, Not Ever report, our national family law system governed by the Commonwealth has responded more slowly to growing community demand to address this scourge.

For parents who end up in the courts to resolve their parenting issues, 85 per cent report a history of emotional abuse and more than half report physical hurt from their former partner. Working in legal aid, we see this, too, with most of our family law cases involving family violence.

The flagship recommendation in the commission’s report is to consider scrapping our national family law courts altogether and working with the states and territories to merge family law into the state courts that already deal with family violence and child protection.

But, if adopted, this recommendation will take years to progress, and on its own won’t make the system safer or fairer, so quicker solutions are needed.

Source: Family law reform needs to move forward – Lawyers Weekly

PODCAST: What is ’emotional labour’ and why are women sick of doing it all themselves?

“Emotional labour” might strike you as a strange term. We don’t necessarily want to think about emotions as “work,” or being thoughtful and considerate as “labour.” But what the concept speaks to is something real, that many women struggle with — particularly women in heterosexual relationships.

In a 2017 article for Harper’s Bazaar, Gemma Hartley wrote about the way in which women are socialized to pick up so much extra labour in terms of holding relationships together, planning trips, remembering events and birthdays, scheduling social and extracurricular activities, planning meals, etc. — generally thinking ahead, and taking care of life. And when we try to bring this up with our partners, we are accused of being nags, or of complaining. “I want a partner with equal initiative,” Gemma wrote.

Source: PODCAST: What is ’emotional labour’ and why are women sick of doing it all themselves?

‘Gut-wrenching’: Queensland police try to block compensation for domestic violence victim

The Queensland police service has launched another attempt to block compensation to a domestic violence victim, who was forced into hiding after her details were accessed by a senior constable and leaked to her abusive former partner.

Julie* won a landmark breach of privacy case against the police in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) last month. The ruling would have entitled Julie to compensation, including for the cost of having to relocate her family, capped at $100,000.

On Friday, the state government’s legal office, Crown Law, filed an appeal against the tribunal decision, likely dragging the case through another complex hearing.

The government briefed a barrister for a hearing last year. Julie represented herself. Throughout, she has had to endure a court battle that legal experts say ran contrary to the state’s responsibility to act as a “model litigant”.

Three times during the case, Crown Law missed filing deadlines and sent submissions after they were due. The application to appeal was also submitted after the 28-day deadline.

In a judgment on 27 March, a QCAT member, Susan Gardiner, found police had breached two of the the state’s information privacy principles.

Throughout the case, police have not disputed that Julie’s privacy was breached. Instead they claimed police were not responsible for that breach.

Crown Law claims, in the application to appeal, that the tribunal erred on several grounds, including by taking into account that Julie was a domestic violence victim.

Source: ‘Gut-wrenching’: Queensland police try to block compensation for domestic violence victim | Australia news | The Guardian

Domestic violence victim forced on to ParentsNext welfare program in ‘horrifying’ case

In a case one policy expert described as “horrifying”, the woman then had her welfare payments suspended because she could not meet her “mutual obligations” while dealing with court, the police, her injuries and caring for her three children, the youngest of whom is two.

There is no requirement for a provider to inform participants they are entitled to a reprieve from their obligations while they deal with a personal crisis.

And they have little incentive to do so, critics say, because they do not receive the service fee when a participant is exempt.

Source: Domestic violence victim forced on to ParentsNext welfare program in ‘horrifying’ case | Australia news | The Guardian

More women in Australia are going to prison than ever before. Here’s why

In the past 10 years, there has been a 75% increase in women’s rates of incarceration.

While men make up the majority of the Australian prison population, the number of women entering the prison system is increasing at a much faster rate.

Just over a third of female prisoners in Australia are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This is particularly significant given Indigenous women comprise just 2 per cent of the general female population in Australia.

Source: More women in Australia are going to prison than ever before. Here’s why

Two officers face disciplinary action after fining murder victim £90 for wasting police time

Two Sussex Police officers are facing disciplinary action after Shana Grice was fined £90 for wasting police time before she was murdered in her home by her stalker ex-boyfriend Michael Lane.

Source: Two officers face disciplinary action after fining murder victim £90 for wasting police time | Daily Mail Online

Pressuring women to stay in their homes will kill them

Against expert advice, the government has created a $10 million grants program to deliver services to people (mostly women) being violently abused by their intimate partners. The conditions of the grant actually state that it is to deliver a “whole of family approach”, incorporating counselling, dispute resolution and education for violent or abusive individuals. “Whole of family” includes both the person being abused and the person abusing them.

Women don’t need marriage counselling. They need help for starting over and law enforcement that takes abuse seriously

Source: Pressuring women to stay in their homes will kill them | Anna Spargo-Ryan | Opinion | The Guardian

Morrison Ignores Domestic Violence Experts Putting Women and Children’s Safety at Risk

Women and children’s safety advocates are dismayed to learn that the $10 mil pledged for so-called ‘Specialist Family Violence Services’ isto go to a select list of family relationship services to provide a range of services including couples counselling and mediation with a ‘whole of family approach’.

Source: Microsoft Word – 06.04.2019_Media Release_Morrison Ignores Domestic Violence Experts Putting Women and Children’s Safety at Risk.docx – 06.04.2019_Media_Release_Morrison_Ignores_Domestic_Violence_Experts_Putting_Women_and_Childrens_Safety_at_Risk.pdf

Former judge appointed to oversee unification of Family, Federal Circuit Courts

While the Senate has rejected the merger of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, former judge the Honourable Dr Chris Jessup QC has been engaged to oversee development of unified family law processes.

Source: Former judge appointed to oversee unification of Family, Federal Circuit Courts – Lawyers Weekly